Q&A with Line Barfod: Transforming Copenhagen's Waste Culture27. Sep 2022
Taking part in our project Circular Cities, the City of Copenhagen is committed to finding new solutions for recycling construction waste. This area accounts for one-third of all waste generated in the municipality. We spoke with Line Barfod, Copenhagen’s Mayor of Technology and Environment, about prospects and challenges in Copenhagen’s transition to a circular economy
About Circular Cities
Circular Cities is an innovation project involving six circular frontrunner cities in Denmark: Aalborg, Fredensborg, Fredericia, Kolding, Copenhagen, and Odsherred. Circular city transitions apply to areas from construction and building materials to energy and water consumption resource optimization.
The program aims to unlock the full potential of the cities and experiment with prototyping actual circular system solutions to be tested in the field. Using a systematic, design-driven approach, we help municipalities work systematically with local circular challenges and collaborate with companies, research environments, and citizens.
Q: Line, why did you decide to join Circular Cities?
A: “As part of the two-year collaboration with DDC – Danish Design Center, Clean, and the five other participating cities, we get a unique opportunity to develop innovative and durable circular solutions that are likely to spread rapidly across the country and benefit society.“
What is your biggest challenge?
“The City of Copenhagen is engaged in this project to develop solutions that will allow us to reuse and recycle more of our construction waste. More specifically, we work towards the goal of sorting another 500 tonnes for recycling in 2024 compared to 2019. Among other things, this includes an increased focus on recycling plastic.
In Copenhagen, one-third of all waste comes from construction, making this an area of great potential. In addition, many parts of our value chain face structural, practical, and economic challenges. This is a complex yet important challenge that requires high-quality solutions. Therefore, it’s a great match to solve this with DDC, Clean, and the five other Danish cities.”
Why is the circular transition important?
“Many of the things we consider waste today are valuable resources. Resources that we can’t keep throwing away and destroying. In essence, we need to become much better at extending the life of our products, recycling, and reusing materials. This is essential for minimizing our resource consumption and CO2 emissions.
Regarding resource consumption per capita, Denmark is almost twice as high as the EU average. We use enormous amounts of raw materials and energy to make products that end up in landfills too quickly. As a result, we are putting a heavier burden on the planet than most people.
We cannot go on like this. Therefore, we must stand together: companies, the municipality, and Copenhagen citizens, to change our waste disposal habits.”
Using our Circular Toolkit, you can get started with your own circular transition.
Today, cities consume most of the world’s resources – up to 75%. Cities also produce 50% of worldwide waste and are responsible for 60-80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the potential is enormous if the municipalities transition from a linear to a circular economy, leading to a more liveable and sustainable planet.
Source: Completing the Picture, Ellen MacArthur Foundation & Arup)
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